Please double check all of these plants using other websites before consumption. Wild edible plants are everywhere you turn. Not only it is free food, but eating wild plants is a huge stride toward wilderness self-sufficiency. Once you know where to look and how to prepare plants you find in the wild, you'll be well prepared whether you're planning on surviving on free greens or you just want to try some new flavors next time you go camping. Be careful, though: eating the wrong plant could be fatal.


  1. Keep in mind that if you live in a humid region, the majority of wild food will be in the sun - whether clearing or 'edge'. In a dry region, such as the Southwest of the USA, most of the wild food will be near water.
  2. 2
    Pick up a local plant guidebook. Get guides to the most common edible plants in your area, typically referred to as "weeds." Learn the top 20 or 25 and try to memorize them — they might come in handy later.
  3. 3
    Start with the number-one habitat for wild edible plants — your lawn. Any place that is regularly cleared is potentially loaded with weeds such as dandelion, chickweed, plantain, wild onion, violets, wood sorrel, henbit, clover, dead-nettle and sow thistle — all of which are 100% edible. Some of these may be called something different where you live or are foraging for food.[1]
  4. 4
    Visit other areas that are regularly cleared. Try roadsides (note warning below), fields, parks, and so on. They will also have tons of edible plants. Chickweed can be picked by the bucketful. Here's what to look for:

  5. 5
    Look for berries on ornamental shrubs, such as this silverberry.[11] Ebbing's silverberry is frequently planted in cities as bushes and hedges - but it will escape into any disturbed habitat and form thickets. The stems, foliage, and berries are all speckled with silver. The red berries are excellent when fully ripe.
  6. 6
    Look for berries on trees. Even in the dead of winter, such as on this laurelcherry. Like most wild cherries, these have a long ripening process and aren't fully ripe until the fruit starts to soften and shrivel.
  7. 7
    Check out ornamental trees. These are planted for their showy flowers — those flowers can lead to fruit, such as cherries or crab apples or plums. They may be small, but can be very tasty.
  8. 8
    Look for nuts beneath trees. Walnuts and hickory nuts can be smashed open with a rock and the edible flesh picked out. Fresh nuts are wet and filling and easy to digest, with a lot of flavor. Acorns are abundant beneath oaks — if the oak has round-lobed leaves, the acorns will need minimal to no processing. Some white oak acorns will have no tannin at all. And keep in mind you get used to it and stop noticing it after the first few — it's how pigeons eat so many acorns.[12]
  9. Check roadsides (note warning below), forest edges, and beside water for fruiting trees. Fruit needs sun to ripen - there's not much fruit in deep woods. The 'edges' of any environment are the most productive - trees are fertilized and keep a moisture and humidity from the forest behind them, but have access to full sun at the edge of a clearing or waterway. This is where you will find fruit like persimmons, wild apples, mulberries, autumn olives, hackberries and so on. Below are persimmons.
  10. Search bodies of water for signs of cattail, bulrush, and watercress. Cattail typically needs an area of stagnant water to thrive, though it will grow in streamsides. Cattail can be in preposterous abundance in lakes and bays.[13] The shoots are wonderful raw, and the pollen in early summer tastes like cake flour. You can gather whole bags of it. Its pollen is so nutritious it's considered a "superfood."
  11. 11
    Nibble on safe flowers. Sample the flower petals of plants you know to be nonpoisonous. Flowers are often very mild to sweet and full of antioxidants. Some excellent blooms are daylilies, violets and honeysuckle. DO NOT EAT AZALEAS! Azaleas are deathly poisonous.[14]
    • The base of flowers can be strong to bitter (and in the case of some, such as Wisteria, toxic) — it's better to break off petals and not eat the green material.
  12. 12
    Check out thorny brambles for food. Rose, blackberry, raspberry, and greenbriar are good examples. Rose has edible hips (the common weedy thicket-forming multiflora rose is the best - the hip is small and tangy), blackberry/raspberry has berries, and greenbriar shoots and tendrils, as well as berries that are rather tasteless but still edible. Below is a multiflora rose.[15]
  13. 13
    Learn your vines so that you can distinguish grape. Wild grapes are found throughout the U.S. and are one of the best wild foods. There's a variety which you will see everywhere throughout the South of the US called "muscadine" — the grapes are thick-skinned and very large, with a flavor like bubble gum.[16] Wild grapes have both edible leaves and tendrils as well as fruit — the leaves can be steeped in apple cider vinegar and used to make dolmas.[17] Muscadine leaves are tougher and benefit from a week-long glass jar ferment. Grape vines also make very sturdy baskets.
  14. 14
    Find deciduous leaves. Try the deciduous leaves of trees like linden, sassafras, Boxelder, sourwood - all are excellent raw. Beech leaves are also highly edible when young, for the first 2 to 4 weeks. You can pull whole salads off the trees. Linden leaves are so large they can be used as tortillas.
  15. 15
    Pick the new growth off conifers in the spring.[18] The young green shoots at the tips of the branches are great raw - a pleasant acid taste. The male pollen cones on conifers are also edible - some are very sweet. And again, it's pollen - extremely nutritious. Many species of pine have edible nuts in the cones in late summer to fall.
  16. Advertisement

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Where can I get an edible-plant book?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Try Amazon or a local camping store.
  • Question
    Do you have some river camping survival tips?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Test the water before drinking it. Don't drink salt water either, and if you're not sure about river water, then boil it to kill germs.
  • Question
    What is the worst that could happen if I eat a non-edible plant?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    You could die from eating certain toxic plants, although many would just make you very ill.


  • Avoid plants growing in areas that may have potentially been subjected to the dumping of toxic wastes.
  • Especially if you live in an urban or high-traffic area, avoid plants growing immediately next to roadsides, or anything with a sticky blackish residue. This could be solidified air pollution!
  • Almost the same is not the same. A plant with maple-like leaves is not a maple. A plant with a yellow bud is not always a primrose. It must be exactly the same to be safe.
  • Avoid the carrot family if you're a novice, and you won't have any worries about being seriously poisoned by wild edible plants. Species like water hemlock and poison-hemlock can kill you. Harvesting plants like wild carrot are not worth the risk of confusing it with a deadly relative, unless you really know what you're doing.
  • Don't try eating wild peas. Even though some can look very much like garden peas - most are poisonous. However, more advanced foragers can have lots of success with edible peas such as Pisum and Lathyrus.

About This Article

wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 45 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. This article has been viewed 482,006 times.
704 votes - 89%
Co-authors: 45
Updated: May 1, 2023
Views: 482,006